Amazing Intelligence in Animals—Magpies and a Falcon

The art of self-defence is not an invention of man. Self-preservation and of the species is inherent in all living creatures.

I recently wrote about an incident that I experienced between  two Magpies and how they were ‘torturing’ one of our house cats. Here’s another one involving Magpies, but this time it wasn’t a house cat, but a Falcon. I never cease to be amazed at the creative intelligence of Magpies. When God was handing out ‘smarts,’ Magpies obviously were at the front of the line!

During the summer months, I have two bird feeders, a bird bath and a suet dispenser for my “community of birds” that visit my back yard quite regularly. Because of these “feeder attractions,” my back yard is usually alive with the busy chatter of a variety of birds, ranging anywhere from the tiny Hummingbird to the majestic Black Crow, and it’s a real joy to sit there, relaxing on my patio, and listen to this “neighborhood chatter.” However, this particular morning when I went out, all was silent, and this silence immediately attracted my attention.

Not only was there silence  but I couldn’t see any of my usual “customers” at the bird feeders. I stood motionless and just observed. What could be the cause of this silence?

Then I saw it. A Falcon had quietly perched itself in an open  area on our fence. It sat still,  only its head slowly turning as its eyes searched for a hidden bird that it could swoop down on and take away for its next meal.

On another section of the fence, a respectable distance from the Falcon, perched a lone Magpie, also very quiet and not moving even a feather. Although I couldn’t hear it with my human ears, I could sense that the Magpie was sending out an alarm to its fellow Magpies that a dangerous intruder was present!

I don’t think I waited five minutes before a swarm of at least a dozen Magpies seemed to appear as if out of nowhere and started a planned, patterned “dive-bombing” of that Falcon. At first, the Falcon stood its ground. In fact, it even made a few feeble tempts to strike out and catch a swooping Magpie, but these Magpie were too practiced—too skilled at their offensive maneuvers and the Falcon’s feeble attempt to snag a Magpie failed every time. These Magpies knew exactly what they were doing: they were professionals! And the battle soon became one-sided  with the Falcon departing in a humiliated flutter of frustration!

With the Falcon gone, it didn’t take long for my back yard to again return to its bustling, noisy, chattering and chirping self!

Their strategy worked. The Magpies proved again that there is power in numbers!

You cannot expect victory and plan for defeat.”  —Joel Osteen

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